Travel in Switzerland: Five free (or cheap) things to do in Geneva

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Travel in Switzerland: Five free (or cheap) things to do in Geneva
An illuminated Jet d'Eau on Lake Geneva. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Swiss tourism authorities are urging us to opt for ‘staycations’ this year, instead of venturing abroad. But for many families, Switzerland is just too expensive. In this first installment of a series featuring the affordable activities in the country’s major cities, we begin with Geneva.


Switzerland’s second-largest city lies scenically on both the Rhone river and its eponymous lake, which the locals call Lac Léman. While a trip here can cost you an arm and a leg, the Local chose some inexpensive (and even free) alternatives for the whole family.

Jet d’Eau (price: Free) 

One of the city's most famous landmarks, the fountain rises 140 metres into the air and shoots out water at a speed of 200 km per hour.

Though it is visible from many points in the city, you can see it in its full glory up close from the stone jetty in the Eaux-Vives section of the city.

Address: Quai Gustave-Ador, 1207 Genève


The Reformation Wall at the Parc des Bastions (price: Free)

In the 16th century, Geneva played a major role in the Reformation movement that had swept Europe at that time. A monument to the Reformation’s central Genevan figures, John Calvin, William Farel, Théodore de Bèze, and John Knox, takes up the entire wall overlooking the historic Parc des Bastions, which offers activities for the whole family, ranging from a giant chess game to skating.

Address: Prom. des Bastions 1



Bains de Pâquis (price: 2 francs entry fee for adults ; 1 franc for children from 6 years, pensioners, and students) 

These public bath houses on a pier are very popular with the locals. On a hot summer day you can swim or just dip your toes into the clear water of Lake Geneva. There is also a coffee shop and a snack bar, so it’s good place to spend a leisurely day.

Address: Quai du Mont-Blanc 30

Laurie Nevay/

READ MORE: Five hidden gems to visit in Switzerland as soon as you can

Yellow water taxi (price: 3.50 francs) 

This boat shuttles you back and forth across the lake, with the Swiss-clock precision of every 10 minutes, giving you an opportunity to see a bit of Geneva’s scenery on the way. The ride costs 3.50 francs, but you can go for free if you get the Geneva Public Transport Card, which also includes free rides on buses and trams.

The boats can be taken in various locations throughout the city

Henk Bekker/flickr

Conservatory and Botanical Garden (price: Free) 

This living museum features a variety of gardens, where visitors will find seasonal flowers, herbs, Swiss plants, rosebushes and more. The greenery is spread out through different sectors such as the Greenhouses, Rockery, Arboretum and Winter Garden — all of which make for a beautiful walk through the territory.

Address: Chemin de l’Impératrice 1

Pedro Cambra/FLICKR




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